untitled, monument for V. Tatlin

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  • Provenance

    Private collection, Paris

  • Exhibited

    Zurich, Kunsthaus, Das Einfache ist das Schwierige, 28 November, 1993 – 16 January, 1994 (another example exhibited); New York, Mary Boone Gallery, Dan Flavin: Tatlin Monuments, 2 – 30 March, 1991 (another example exhibited); Tokyo, Museum of Contemporary Art, Revolution: Art of the Sixties from Warhol to Beuys, 30 September – 10 December, 1995 (another example exhibited); London, Tate Gallery, 20 May – 8 September, 1996; Stuttgart Kunstverein, 28 September – 24 November, 1996; Hamburg Kunsthalle, 23 January – 13 April, 1997; Vienna, Kunstforum, 20 May – 17 August, 1997 (another example exhibited); The Froehlich Foundation: German and American Art from Beuys and Warhol; New York, Danese, Dan Flavin: Monuments for V. Tatlin, 10 January – 8 February, 1997 (another example exhibited); Washington DC, National Gallery of Art, 3 October, 2003 – 9 January, 2004; Fort Worth, Modern Art Museum, 25 February – 5 June, 2005; Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art, 1 July – 30 October, 2005 (another example exhibited); Dan Flavin: The Complete Lights, 1961-1996.

  • Literature

    Exhibition Catalogue, Tokyo Museum of Contemporary Art, Revolution: Art of the Sixties from Warhol to Beuys, Tokyo, 1995, p.137 (another example illustrated); M. Beudert, ed., The Froehlich Foundation: German and American Art from Beuys and Warhol, Stuttgart, 1996, p.150 (another example illustrated); D.Flavin, ‘monuments' for V.Tatlin, New York, 1997, p.19 (another example illustrated); G.Adriani, ed., Minimal Art aus den Sammlungen FER, Froehlich und Siegfried Weishaupt, Karlsruhe, 2001, p.79 (another example illustrated); D.Flavin, Dan Flavin: The Complete Lights, 1961-1996, New York, 2004

  • Catalogue Essay

    My concern for the thought of Russian artist-designer, Vladimir Tatlin (1885-1953), was prompted by the man’s frustrated, insistent attitude to attempt to combine artistry and engineering. The pseudo-monuments, structural, designs for clear but temporary cool white fluorescent lights, were to honor the artist ironically.
    (Dan Flavin, ‘Some artist’s remark…’ in Monuments for V. Tatlin from Dan Flavin, 1964-1982, exh.cat.)
     
    Incorporating light within private architectural and public spaces, Dan Flavin is one of the most prominent artists to have risen out of the 1960s creative advancement. His exclusive use of fluorescent light as a medium came about in 1963 and would become his cornerstone artistic practice until his death in 1996. Flavin used the neon fluorescent lights within gallery spaces illuminating surroundings intending to explore color, light and sculptural space. These structures cast both light and an eerily-colored shade, while taking on a variety of forms including corner pieces, barriers, and corridors. His simple, subtle and open colorful pieces brought him into alliance with the minimal art movement, at times being credited with being its founder. The commentary Flavin creates with his oeuvre transcends with advancements in technology, architecture and artistic practice. By working with industrial lighting, Flavin’s symbolic take on removing these lights from their original surroundings and placing them in a gallery exploded the creative consciousness of utilizing the ready-made, a profound shake on the art world which hadn’t occurred since Duchamp.
      
    Whether site-specific or editioned, the effect of the works is conditioned by the fact that the medium of fluorescent light is elusive. Much has been written about the transitory, ephemeral quality of the light itself. As a volume of colored light radiates through space, it is perceptible only as reflection on its material containers – walls, floors, or whatever else falls in its path. Similarly, its intensity changes with location, viewpoint, and time of day. More practically speaking, the ephemeral nature of Flavin’s lights is inherent in the impermanence of the medium: the lights can be turned on and off, and like all bulbs, have a limited life span.
     
    The ephemeral quality within Flavin’s work was a reflection he penciled down in an early poem written in 1961 with only descriptive nouns and verbs which reads:
    “fluorescent / poles / shimmer / shiver / flick / out / dim / monuments / of / on / and / off / art.”
    (Taken from National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Dan Flavin / Lumière Fluorescente, exh.cat., 1969)
     
    The present lot is taken from a series developed early in 1964 and like most of his other works contains the name ‘untitled’ but is normally followed by a dedication or homage to a fellow creative, historical / public figure or close friend. Constructivist Vladimir Tatlin would provide the influence for one of Flavin’s longest running sustained series, monuments. It was with a book written by Camilla Gray entitled ‘The Great Experiment: Russian Art 1863 – 1922’ which brought the artist in contact with Tatlin. Like many other artists in the 60’s, Flavin was not the only one looking for inspiration from the Russian school of creative’s, seeking social and political attitudes in an equally revolutionary language of abstraction, which particular to Tatlin deals with the use of real materials such as wood, tin, iron, glass and plaster in three dimensional space.
     
    Camilla Gray writes on Tatlin: ‘In his corner constructions of 1915-1916, Tatlin did away with the ‘frame’ or ‘background’ which had restricted his earlier works, limiting them in time and space. For the frame does much to isolate a ‘work of art,’ to hallow a selected moment, lifting it to the plane of the ‘eternal’: cordoning off a perfect, private, ideal world. It was this separation of the reality of art from the reality of life that Tatlin sought to destroy in these counter-reliefs.’ Real materials in real space’ was his cry.’ (C.Gray, The Great Experiment: Russian Art 1863 – 1922, London, 1986, p.180)
     In this edition from the V. Tatlin series, a cool fresh and almost holy white gleam from a 5 neon tube set up is divided into 7 separate lights, all vertical. Reminiscent of a spaceship or human figure, there is no projected core of inner vision, only the literal projection of each fixture and tube from ground to the wall. With his sculptural, architectural and bright sensibility, Flavin illuminates our lives with a contemporary glow, literally.

  • Artist Bio

    Dan Flavin

    American • 1933 - 1996

    Dan Flavin employed commercially-sold fluorescent light tubes in order to produce what he liked to call "situations" or installations. His minimalist approach transcended simplicity through his use of neon colors and thoughtful compositions. With straight-edged light beams, Flavin would often create dynamic arrangements reminiscent of Fred Sandback's work with yarn.

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212

untitled, monument for V. Tatlin

1969-1970
Cool white fluorescent light.
Height: 244 cm. (96 in).
This work is an edition of 5 and is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity.

Estimate
£350,000 - 450,000 Ω ♠

sold for £421,250

Contemporary Art Eve Sale

29 June 2008, 5pm
London